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Loan Forgiveness and Grant Programs for Educators

Financial Assistance for Current Teachers

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (Federal)

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness is available for classroom teachers who have Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.
  • To meet the eligibility requirements for this program a teacher must have been:
    • Employed as a full-time, highly qualified elementary or secondary teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years, and
    • Employed at a designated low-income school during this period.
  • Special education teachers and secondary math or science teachers may be eligible for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. Elementary teachers and non math or science secondary teachers may be eligible for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.
    • For the purpose of this loan forgiveness program, based on Wisconsin state law, a “full-time teacher for secondary school students” is a teacher working in any school that includes grade 9 or higher (this includes schools with grades 9-12, 7-9, or K-12) AND the teacher must teach students in grade 9 or higher.
  • Teachers apply for this program and the end of their five consecutive years of eligible teaching. Information on the federal loan forgiveness program including the application process is available at Federal Student Aid Information from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Wisconsin identified low-income schools or agencies are listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low Income-Schools. 

Definition of a “Low Income” School

  • The school must be a public or other non-profit private elementary or secondary school located in the school district of a local educational agency that is eligible for assistance under Title I of the Elementary or Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.
  • A low-income school is one in which more than 30% of its total enrollment is economically disadvantaged students.
  • All elementary and secondary schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) or operated on reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract with the BIA qualify as low-income schools.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (Federal)

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness may be available for those employed at a government or not-for-profit organization with Direct Federal Loans or a Direct Federal Consolidation Loan.
  •  To meet the eligibility requirements for this program a public school district employee must 
    • have made 120 qualifying monthly payments towards your student loans under an accepted Federal repayment plan (payments do not need to be consecutive)*
    • work full-time for an eligible employer during the 120 qualifying payments (for the purpose of this program, most employees at a public school district or CESA may meet this eligibility criteria)
  • Once a borrower has reached 120 qualifying payments, the remainder of their Federal loan balance may be forgiven. *Note: as a result of the CARES Act, months that you were in repayment while the requirement to make a payments on Federal loans was paused, count as qualifying payments if you also certify your employment for the same period of time.
  • Borrowers apply for this program once they are working for an eligible organization. Borrowers should not wait to complete 120 payments before applying to this program. Information on this program including the application process is available at Federal Student Aid Information from the U.S. Department of Education.

Loan Cancelation (Federal)

Application for cancellation or discharge of a Perkins Loan must be made to the school that made the loan or to the school’s Perkins Loan servicer. Please contact your school for forms and instructions specific to your type of cancellation or discharge.

If you are asked to provide a license verification letter:

Contact the DPI Educator Licensing office to request a verification letter stating that you:

  • Hold a license in a subject shortage area for the current school year; OR
  • Hold a license and are teaching in a low-income school building for the present school term.
  • Include the following information with your request: Your DPI Entity Number, Your current mailing address

NOTE: The list of teacher subject shortage categories and the list of low-income schools are generally published around May/June for that particular school year (e.g., in May 2022 for the 2021-22 school year). You cannot request the verification letter before May/June of the current school year. Request the verification letter after the shortage areas and low-income schools are announced. If you have applied for a teaching license, you must wait until you have actually received your license before requesting a verification letter.

Financial Assistance for Future Teachers

  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant - A federal grant program that can help pay for college for those who plan to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income school. 
    • Student must be eligible and enrolled at a school that participates in the TEACH Grant program, and must meet academic achievement requirements. Contact your financial aid office at your school to learn if the school participates in this program. 
    • After receiving the TEACH Grant, participant must work full-time and in a designated low income school, working in a high-need field for four years. 
  • Wisconsin Minority Teacher Program (WI Stat § 39.40 (2019))
    • Eligibility: Available to minority students (as defined in WI Stat § 39.40(1)) who are Wisconsin residents enrolled at least half-time in a higher education institution within Wisconsin in a program leading to a teacher license in a designated teacher shortage area.
    • Loans will be forgiven at 25% per year IF the recipient:
      • is employed by an elementary or secondary school located within a district in which minority students constitute at least 40% of the membership (for more information on qualifying school districts, please contact DPI).
      • is employed as a full-time teacher in a high-demand area in the teacher's discipline, and 
      • receives a rating of proficient or distinguished on the educator effectiveness system (or equivalent)
    • For those interested the Wisconsin Minority Teacher Loan Program, please review information in this State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board flier
  • For information on other potential Wisconsin Financial Aids programs, visit: State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB).
  • For information on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teacher Pledge Program, visit: 
For questions about this information, contact Clara Pfeiffer (608) 261-6324